TT#039 - Why you're selling yourself short by selling your time...

Nov 29, 2022
TT#039 - Why you're selling yourself short by selling your time...

If a lawn service charged you by the hour and showed up with a pair of scissors to cut your grass, you’d probably have some questions. 

Because hourly billing creates misalignment.  

A less extreme example of this recently played out with a couple guys I hired to migrate our accounting and CRM software. 

My experience reinforced why I feel so strongly about my clients abolishing the practice of selling “time.”

I went something like this:

CRM People: I saw your ad for an accounting and CRM software migration. We are an elite certified partner with [new CRM company] and can do that for [proposed amount].

Me: That’s a little more than I wanted to spend but seems fair.

CRM People: Ok, we can set this up as a project or on an hourly basis. We expect it to take 15-25 hours.

Me: You’re the experts so set it up however you’d like. I just know I want my accounting and CRM software migrated and want to pay [proposed amount].

About 5 weeks later, I anxiously showed up to the reveal party of the new systems.

CRM People: We’re 90% done and want you to take it for a test drive.

Me: There aren’t any transaction in the accounting software.

CRM People: Individual transactions weren’t included in the quote. It would take more time to do that.

Me: There aren’t any notes or information on any of the accounts in the CRM.

CRM People: Notes and other information weren’t included in the quote. It would take more time to do that.

Me: There aren’t any reports, emails, or activities in the CRM that I use to run my business.

CRM People: Reports, emails, and activities weren’t included in the quote. It would take more time to do that.

Me: Tell me, how do you define the term “migration”?

CRM People: You’re not appreciating the time it takes to do these things.

Compressed for brevity, but this is an absolutely true story. Right down to the conversation about projects vs. hourly billing and appreciating time.

And it highlights why selling time creates misalignment between you and your clients.

Most people are buying a solution to a problem. Your time is just one of the tools you'll use to provide that solution. But your time isn’t the product anymore than a hammer is the product for a general contractor. 

There’s another misalignment, too. 

Your time is the most valuable resource you have. But it has virtually no value to your clients on its own. Not until you apply it towards a solution they want.

All of this is what makes selling solutions a substantially better business model than selling time. 

But, how do you sell solutions when you don't know how much time it'll take to deliver them?

You design an introductory offer that creates alignment between you and your clients. This way you both have an opportunity to really understand what needs to be done and build a practical plan to make that happen.

Introductory offers we help clients build are usually diagnostic "products" built around your experience and expertise. They're designed to be executed efficiently with repeatable processes. And done well, they’re thorough enough to get a real understanding of what's going on in the business to ensure you can deliver what they are looking for.

A few examples from sales professionals include:

These are sales-focused examples, but they can be built for anyone selling their executive-level expertise. In my program we’ve helped finance, operations, customer experience, and marketing professionals built theirs as well.

These aren't just lead magnets though. They aren't cheap tricks designed just to sell larger engagements.

They are legitimate services that deliver value on their own. That value is usually a playbook, project plan, or series of clear recommendations that'll help the buyer get the solution they're looking for. Even if they choose another service provider to execute it.

They also help service providers evaluate if it’s a good fit before they commit to a long-term engagement. 

And this is what separates amateurs that will sell their services to anyone that’ll buy them from experts that only want to apply their superpower.   

Amateurs guess, lowball budgets, hope to "land and expand," and walk away from client engagements with some more cash in the bank... and no case study to show for it.

Experts position an introductory offer as the only logical way of offering a prescription to a complex problem.

After all, would you trust a doctor that quoted you for surgery without diagnosing the problem?

As for our accounting and CRM migration, we pulled the plug on the fellas we were working with. They'll move on to the next client without the social proof they need to keep advancing in rates. And I'll learn a lesson or two about hiring service providers that don't offer  the same kind of diagnostic product or process I help my own clients build.  

 At least I got a good newsletter out of the engagement. 😉

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